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Sunday, 20 August 2017

Taking the Model Out

Whenever I talk about this, there's much hilarity, what do I mean? It's of course a shorthand way of talking about the architect's model of the new museum and art gallery.
The architects' model has been displayed at many places over the last 3 months, the list of some of them appears at the end of this post. The idea behind this is to spread the word about the plans for the new Museum and Art Gallery, and show people the model of the proposed new building.
Volunteers accompany the model and explain the plans, the HLF bid and ask people what the feel about the plans, responses have been almost completely positive and most people have signed the postcards expressing their support.
I have been out to Open Farm Sunday at East Farm in Avebury, twice to the Central Library when the model appeared with plans for the town centre development, and recently to Swindon and Cricklade Railway Steam and Vintage weekend on 12 August.
Never having been to Swindon and Cricklade railway before, I came away a convert to the celebration of steam trains, the old railway line, the waiting room, the station master in uniform, the cafe and so much more. I will be going back as a punter before long.
Here's a photograph of two men in World War 2 uniforms, made of very thick woollen material, looking at the model:
 I was so impressed with the soldiers that I took a proper photo of them
 Here are more people engrossed in looking at the model:
 Having finished my stint with the model, I left the field, crossed the railway line and had a look round at some of the vintage exhibits, this water pump was very impressive.
 According to the information with it, it's a Merryweather & Sons 'Valiant' Steam Pumping engine
 The green writing on the board tells you it was built in 1944 to the order of the War Office, and was one of many supplied to fight fires caused by incendiary bombs in towns. They were placed in strategic points and steam could be raised in 10 minutes or so. The Merryweather Company amazingly dates back to 1692.
 Here's the train coming into Blunsdon station
 and here's another view
More on the bid and the model at
As you can see, it was at Wanborough Show yesterday, and will be at the half marathon on 3 September.

Dorcan Summer Fete Sat 11am to 4pm
Swindon Business Expo, STEAM – Thurs 9.30am to 5pm
Wroughton Carnival – Sat 1pm to 6pm
Wrde Up Festival, Highworth Sat 2pm to 6pm
Old Town Festival – Sun midday to 6pm?
15 or 16/7/2017

Steam, Cider and Sausages festival – Sunday, 10am to 5pm Swindon and Cricklade Railway,Blunsdon
Pinehurst  Fun Day
Stratton Festival, Grange Leisure, Stratton. Saturday 12 to 6pm
Swindon and Wilts PRIDE festival, Town Gardens, Swindon. Sat – 12 to 6pm?
12 or 13/8/2017
Swindon and Cricklade Railway Steam and Vintage weekend – time to be confirmed- Sat & Sun
Wanborough Summer Show and Carnival, Wanborough – 12 to 5pm?
Swindon Half Marathon – finish at Wharf Green - afternoon
Swindon Open Studios SM&AG

Swindon Open Studios SM&AG

Friday, 11 August 2017

Michael Sandle's talk

Award winning sculptor Michael Sandle RA was suggested as someone who might come and talk to us about his sculptures by Robert Hiscox who knows him well, and has bought some of his work,
The RA says this about him:
'Michael Sandle studied at Douglas School of Art and Technology, Isle of Man from 1951 to 1954 and the Slade School of Fine Art, London from 1956 to 1959. In his early work he emphasised craftsmanship and the search for symbols, rejecting the formalism increasingly common in sculpture of the period. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s he worked on a small range of individual works in which he explored abstract and figurative idioms.
Following his appointment as professor of sculpture at Pforzheim, Germany in 1973, and at Karlsruhe, Germany in 1980, Sandle’s work became more monumental, partly in response to a series of significant commemorative commissions. His work voices criticisms of what Sandle describes as “the heroic decadence” of capitalism, in particular its appetite for global conflict. He has also attacked the media for packaging and sanitising the destructiveness of war. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1994.
He has exhibited in numerous group exhibitions in Britain and internationally including the 5th Paris Biennale, 4th and 6th Documenta and Sao Paulo Biennale.'
If you scroll down his page on the RA's website, you'll see his just how wide his fame has spread. I was very much in awe of the man, and very pleased that Robert Hiscox was able to give him a suitable introduction. I haven't taken any decent photos, but the talk was excellent. He was entertaining and self deprecating, and we were so fortunate to have had him to talk to the Friends.
Below a bronze 'Woman for Heidelberg' photographed in Ludlow Castle in 2007
 Below 'A 20th Century Memorial' at the Duveen Gallery 201
 'St George and the Dragon Fountain'  on display at Dorset Rise in London
 Below, one of the installations Michael Sandle is proudest about, the WW2 Malta Siege Memorial, the 13.5 tonne bell being hoisted into the cupola in Valetta in 1991.
 I loved this detail of men in a boat in one of the sculptures.
Do have a look at 'Homage to Brunel' when you're next in the gallery at the museum, here's a portion of it:
Thank you once again Michael Sandle for taking the time to come and share some of your ideas with us, and of course for the wonderful images of your sculptures.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Paint Me This Way! an exhibition by Susan Carr

Susan Carr's exhibition in the downstairs rooms at the museum is fascinating and well worth a visit if you haven't seen it already. Susan has held several talks and family events since putting up her exhibition. This is a summary of what the project she has been engaged in for the last 9 years is about:
'This exhibition shows how portraiture can be used to help individuals rediscover and celebrate their identity, even when facing the greatest challenges. It comprises 29 painted portraits, 6 sculptures and 80 collages, all designed collaboratively with 7 patients living with severe illness.'
I took some photos at the lunchtime talk on 14 July, it was packed as you can see, and so hard to see the paintings:

  At the evening talk, Susan went into more detail of the psychology behind portrait therapy, and a bit about her background and how she began working in this field
 Susan talked about these early pieces, below 'Used Garment (Between the Psychological and the Aesthetic) 1999
 and I think you can see 'Agorophobic Dress'
There was a packed house that night:
Susan will be giving a free lunchtime talk on Friday 1 September 12.30-1pm, so please go along to find out more.

Friends' Trip to The Watts Gallery

Last month we went on our third trip of the season to the Watts Gallery set in beautiful countryside near the aptly named Hog's Back. There are special events at the gallery this year to celebrate the bicentenary of the artist's birth. Their website describes it like this:
'Watts Gallery - Artists' Village has plenty to enjoy for visitors of all ages. Engage with history and art at the newly opened Watts Studios, and discover our permanent collection of Victorian paintings and sculpture in Watts Gallery before visiting the De Morgan Collection, on long term loan to the Artists' Village.
Enjoy a quiet moment at Watts Chapel – a Grade I listed Arts & Crafts building – then explore the woodlands and grounds before treating yourself at the Tea Shop and browsing art for sale in Watts Contemporary Gallery, along with a wide selection of gifts in the Watts Shop.'
Arriving at 10.45am, we had a coffee in the tea room and then gathered together for the guided tour of Limnerslease where the Wattses lived with adjoining studio space.
 I have just added 41 photos to this blog and realise I must leave some out, quite a difficult decision, there were so many wonderful things to photograph
 Mary Watts created made this beautiful Pilgrims Way cross as a memorial to her husband, it's made from terracotta dug from the surrounding land, and was moulded at the Compton Pottery founded by Mary Watts
 Here's a photo of Limnerslease House as we approach it from below:
 Inside the house, there's a particularly beautiful rug in the living room, designed by Mary Watts for liberty's, this small section depicts a pelican feeding its young.
 I love this photo of Mary reading to her husband in the alcove of their living room.
 This jug, one of 3 pieces, made by Emma Bridgewater to celebrate the bicentenaary year of Watts' birth.
 These pieces below, with a strong Art Nouveau influence were made by Mary Watts at the Compton Pottery after she's finished work on the Chapel.
 This photo is taken in Watts' studio: 'In the G F Watts Studio, the smell of oils and varnish fills the air, and desks are strewn with letters in the artist's own hand. Around the room are unfinished canvases displayed on easels or suspended from the rafters in this vast cathedral-like space.'

 We're now gathered together outside the Watts gallery on our second guided tour
 Another view of the gallery with a splendid hollyhock growing in the gravel

 Above is a model of Physical Energy, 1884-1904, seen above in the gallery, and below with Watts seen in the right hand corner. Physical energy represented 'the restless physical impulse to seek the still unachieved'. He worked on it in sections and pieced them together. There are 3 casts in bronze made from the model, one in Kensington Gardens in London, another in the National Archives of Zimbabwe in Harare, and another at the Rhodes Memorial overlooking Cape Town in South Africa.
 This sculpture is also magnificent.
 From there we looked at the DeMorgan pottery on loan, and argued over which we liked best. I loved this piece and the tile

 Time for a tea break, and behind the cafe there's this lovely planted relief of Physical Energy
 Onto our third tour of the day, The Watts Chapel designed by Mary Watts
 This was most peoples favourite part of the day, the chapel is magnificent and could easily be missed after the splendours of the rest of the Watts Village. The door is beautiful with so many designs in the terracotta that I decided I needed to know more about them and so bought a book explaining their significance in the shop.On the right, Marion can be seen fiddling with her photos on her phone.
 I'll select a few of the many photos of the inside of the chapel to give you an idea of how magnificent it is.

Details of flowers:

 I'll finish with a quote from Penelope Keith and a summary from their website:

 'I had no idea that here in Surrey, there was a collection of such richness and a story of such depth. That one man with his devoted wife could leave so much — which makes Compton a unique artists' village and Watts one of the most important artists and philanthropists of the 19th century.' — Penelope Keith CBE DL

'Watts Gallery - Artists' Village is a unique Arts & Crafts gem nestled in the Surrey Hills. Discover stunning Victorian paintings and sculpture in the historic Watts Gallery before treating yourself to lunch or a cream tea in the Tea Shop. Wander to the nearby Grade I listed Watts Chapel, taking in the beautiful woodlands and grounds, or find out more about the lives of G F and Mary Watts at Watts Studios before taking a tour of the artists' home, Limnerslease. In the Pottery Building there is art for sale in the Watts Contemporary exhibition along with a wide selection of gifts, books and homewares in the Shop.'